What Tools Does a Chiropractor Use: A Closer Look?

chiropractic clinic with different tools used by chiropractors

Have you ever found yourself curious and intrigued by the fascinating world of chiropractic care? I remember the first time we stepped into a chiropractor’s office, a blend of curiosity and anticipation swirling in my mind. What tools does a chiropractor use?

How do they help alleviate not just back pain but a variety of other health issues?

Today, we will unravel the mystery together, taking a close-up look at the arsenal of 28 tools used by chiropractors.

Take it easy, get comfortable, and let’s start this journey together.

The Role of Chiropractic Tools in Treatment

Chiropractic tools are the trusty sidekicks of any chiropractor. They’re the Batman to their Robin, the peanut butter to their jelly.

Let’s think of a situation, shall we?

Imagine you’re a gardener, and your garden is your body.

Sometimes, a few weeds (let’s call them health issues) stubbornly sprout up despite your best efforts.

Just as a gardener uses specific tools to uproot these weeds, chiropractors use them to help your body return to its healthiest state.

Here are some of these tools:

Essential Tools
  1. Adjusting Tables
  2. Activator Adjusting Tool
  3. Chiropractic Adjusting Gun
  4. Drop Pieces
  5. Flexion-Distraction Tables
  6. Gonstead Adjusting Tools
  7. Manual Manipulation Tools
  8. Impulse Adjusting Instruments
  9. Pelvic Blocks
  10. Posture Pump


Advance Tools
11.   Cold Laser Therapy Devices

12.   EMS Machines

13.   Intersegmental Traction Tables

14.   Kinesiology Tape

15.   Ultrasound Therapy Machines

16.   Vibration Therapy Tools

17.   Decompression Belt

18.   X-ray Machines

19.   TENS Units

20.   Biofreeze Topical Gel

Other Tools
21.   Spinal Decompression Machines

22.   Chiropractic Massage Tools

23.   Foam Rollers

24.   Physiotherapy Bands

25.   Cervical Traction Devices

26.   Sacro Occipital Technique (SOT) Blocks

27.   Interferential Current (IFC) Machines

28.   Trigger Point Tools

This is just a taste of the toolkit chiropractors use to relieve you.

Each tool has its purpose and role, working together like a well-orchestrated symphony, helping the chiropractor to tune your body to the key of wellbeing.

History of Tools Used by Chiropractors

In the late 1800s, chiropractors used their hands to help people with their backs. Then, in the 1960s, a game-changing tool called the Activator Adjusting Instrument came along. It was like a magic wand that gave precise jolts to the spine, making chiropractic care more accessible.

After the Activator’s success, more tools joined the party. Flexion-distraction tables and Drop tables added variety to the mix, like different tools in a toolbox. They made treatments better and suited to different needs.

From the old days to now, when we have fancy tools, chiropractic care has grown. It’s like a story of going from simple to excellent tools, showing how chiropractors are constantly learning and helping people in new ways.

Essential Tools Used by Chiropractors

chiropractor using a tool  for foot adjustment

Chiropractors help people feel better by adjusting their spines and muscles.

You won’t find cold surgical tools in their offices, but a cool collection of special tools that catch everyone’s interest.

With soft light and calming music, these tools are ready to help bring balance back to your body and make you feel good.

Let’s tour a chiropractor’s office, exploring the essential tools at the core of chiropractic care.

1. Adjusting Tables

Adjusting tables is the chiropractic equivalent of an artist’s canvas.

They serve as the foundational piece of equipment where chiropractors perform various adjustments.

These tables are meticulously designed to comfort the patient while allowing chiropractors precise control to perform spinal manipulations.

Many come equipped with sections that can be raised or lowered, enabling practitioners to target specific areas with precision, offering patients much-needed relief from their ailments.

2. Activator Adjusting Tool

The Activator is a handheld mechanical instrument that delivers a controlled, quick thrust to the spine.

It’s a favorite among chiropractors for its ability to provide gentle and direct adjustments without the twisting positions that other techniques require.

Like fixing a delicate wristwatch, the Activator aids chiropractors in “ticking” the posture back into its correct position, so much so that the audible click of the device has become synonymous with the relief that often follows.

3. Drop Pieces

Subtlety is an art mastered by chiropractors; drop pieces are a testament to that finesse.

Adaptations to the adjusting table feature segments that can be set to “drop” a fraction of an inch when the chiropractor applies a thrust.

This feature enables chiropractors to use the table’s momentum with manual force for a lighter yet effective adjustment.

Drop pieces work like the unseen genius behind a magician’s grand illusion — foundational yet imperceptible.

4. Flexion-Distraction Tables

Flexion distraction tables, with their dynamic nature, allow chiropractors to stretch and decompress the spine delicately.

Imagine the table as a ballet dancer who can flex and pivot gracefully, providing each vertebrae’s space to dance back into alignment.

This fluid tool is essential for treating conditions like herniated discs, allowing the patient to experience relief from precise movement—both of the table and the chiropractor’s skilled hands.

5. Chiropractic Adjusting Gun

chiropractor using gun for adjustment

In the quest for pain relief, the Chiropractic Adjusting Gun is a unique tool from the chiropractor’s arsenal.

Resembling something out of a sci-fi novel, this instrument allows for rapid percussive adjustments to help release muscle tension and improve the range of motion.

The gun is drawn and fired with laser precision. The effect is often immediate and deeply satisfying, like a pianist striking a chord that resonates through the body’s natural symphony.

6. Gonstead Adjusting Tools

The Gonstead technique is a philosophy within chiropractic that espouses specificity in adjustment.

The tools associated with this technique, including measurement devices and adjusting chairs, help the chiropractor to identify and correct only the problem areas with pinpoint accuracy.

Gonstead tools are the fine brushes in the chiropractor’s palette, helping to color within the lines of the body’s structure, offering subtle and profound improvements.

7. Manual Manipulation Tools

There’s something to be said about the power of the human touch, and chiropractors are highly trained to use their hands as tools for healing.

Manual manipulation remains one of the most valuable instruments at a chiropractor’s disposal, from the push and pull of a muscle to the firm yet gentle realignment of a joint.

The human hand — backed by years of expertise and intuitive knowledge — becomes an extension of the healer’s intent.

8. Neuromechanical Impulse Adjusting Instruments

Joining the technological advances in chiropractic care, neuromechanical impulse adjusting instruments are the latest generation in precise adjustment tools.

They blend the art of manual adjustment with the consistency and precision of machine assistance, offering controlled impulses that target specific areas.

Think of it as the difference between hand-painting a mural and using an airbrush — both create a beautiful result, but the latter can provide a level of detail that the former may not consistently achieve.

9. Pelvic Blocks

Chiropractors often rely on simplicity for some of their most influential work. Pelvic blocks are triangular-shaped cushions used to position the pelvis during adjustments. Through strategic placement, they leverage gravity against the patient’s body weight to facilitate the desired shift in alignment. Like age-old building techniques that use counterweights, pelvic blocks are time-honored tools grounded in the laws of physics.

10. Posture Pump

The Posture Pump is specially designed to counteract the forces of gravity and our modern lifestyle, which often leave us hunched over screens.

This device gently cradles the head and neck, allowing for decompression of vertebral discs.

It’s akin to stretching after a long journey — an unfolding and an upliftment that is as rejuvenating as it is relieving.

Advanced Tools Used by Chiropractors

Advanced Tools Used by Chiropractors

Chiropractic care has come a long way from the traditional manual adjustment techniques that have defined it for so long.

Today’s chiropractors integrate cutting-edge technology and innovative tools that border the futuristic.

These advancements make treatments more efficient, precise, and comfortable for patients.

As we peel back the curtain on a modern chiropractor’s toolkit, we discover devices that offer pain relief and improve overall function and wellbeing.

Let’s look at some of the top advanced tools chiropractors use.

11. Cold Laser Therapy Devices

Cold or low-level laser therapy (LLLT) sounds like something from a science fiction novel, yet it’s common in many chiropractic offices.

These devices emit specific wavelengths of light to penetrate the skin, promoting cellular regeneration and reducing inflammation.

They can accelerate the healing process for joint and muscle pain, wounds, and other conditions.

The story goes like this:

Joe, an avid runner, sprained his ankle. Skeptical but intrigued by the notion of lasers aiding his recovery, he agreed to try cold laser therapy.

To his amazement, Joe felt significant relief after several sessions, and his ankle’s range of motion improved dramatically. It was as if each painless laser pulse reignited his cells’ innate healing abilities.

12. Electrical Muscle Stimulation Machines

Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) machines send gentle electrical pulses to affected muscles, causing them to contract and relax rhythmically.

This therapy can relieve pain, reduce swelling, and help build strength in patients unable to perform conventional exercises due to injury or surgery.

Sarah’s back was stiff and ached constantly from sitting at her desk job.

When her chiropractor introduced her to EMS, she experienced a curious tingling sensation as the machine sparked life into her tired muscles.

Her back felt more flexible within weeks, and the pain eased considerably.

13. Intersegmental Traction Tables

Intersegmental traction tables are particularly intriguing. Patients lie on these motorized tables while rollers move up and down the spine, gently stretching and massaging the spinal joints.

The motion improves circulation, relieves muscle strains, and enhances spinal mobility—which is crucial for maintaining a healthy back.

Mark, with his history of spinal issues, found that regular sessions on the traction table made a marked difference to his flexibility.

These tables offered a passive form of therapy that complemented his active lifestyle.

14. Kinesiology Tape

Kinesiology tape, a colorful tape often seen on athletes, is no mere fashion statement.

It’s an elastic therapeutic tape that supports and stabilizes muscles and joints without restricting motion.

It also may help to reduce pain and inflammation.

A volleyball player, Anna, wore kinesiology tape during matches to manage knee pain.

The tape provided support and seemed to re-educate her muscles on how to move correctly, reducing her risk of future injuries.

15. Ultrasound Therapy Machines

chiropractor using ultra sound therapy tool

Ultrasound therapy uses high-frequency sound waves to treat deep tissue injuries by stimulating blood circulation and cell activity, which promotes healing and reduces pain and muscle spasms.

Unlike the ultrasound used for imaging, therapy machines are calibrated to provide deep heating to soft tissues.

After a car accident, Miguel turned to ultrasound therapy to soothe his whiplash injury.

The warmth and vibrations of the ultrasound probe delivered a soothing sensation deep within his neck muscles.

16. Vibration Therapy Tools

Vibration therapy is relatively new to the chiropractic scene. These tools apply rapid oscillations to muscles and joints, improving blood flow and reducing muscle tightness.

Vibration therapy is also valued for its potential to increase bone density and support neuromuscular training.

Lily discovered the benefits of vibration therapy after suffering from chronic ankle instability. The gentle, humming vibrations helped awaken her muscles, leading to better balance and coordination.

17. Decompression Belts

Spinal decompression therapy has been a game-changer for many with herniated disks or chronic lower back pain.

Decompression belts are wearable devices that apply gentle, steady traction to the lower spine, creating space between vertebrae. This can alleviate pressure on the nerves and discs in the back.

Dave, a long-term sufferer of sciatica, found relief with a decompression belt.

It felt like a gentle yet firm hand, gradually lifting the weight off his lower back, allowing him to move and work with less discomfort.

18. Digital X-ray Machines

Digital X-ray machines represent a leap forward in diagnostic capabilities, offering more explicit images with reduced radiation exposure.

These images help chiropractors to diagnose conditions more accurately and develop targeted treatment plans.

When Grace slipped at the grocery store, her chiropractor’s digital X-ray swiftly revealed the extent of her spinal misalignment.

This allowed for an immediate and precise response—tailoring her therapy for a faster recovery.

19. TENS Units

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) units are small, battery-powered devices that can be worn throughout the day.

They deliver low-voltage electrical currents through the skin to help control pain.

For Tom, who had endured chronic shoulder pain for years, using a TENS unit was like flipping a switch that distracted his nerves from the constant pain.

It didn’t remove the cause, but it gave him much-needed respite.

20. Biofreeze Topical Gel

Biofreeze is a menthol-based gel chiropractors often recommend for quick muscle and joint pain relief. The cooling effect is fast-acting, penetrating the skin to alleviate discomfort.

Nina would apply Biofreeze before and after her yoga sessions. The cooling sensation eased her tight muscles, allowing her to stretch more deeply and maintain her practice without pain.

Other Tools Used by a Chiropractor

In addition to the above, chiropractors may use other tools, such as massage devices and foam rollers. These therapies can work together to create a holistic pain management and healing approach.

Let’s discuss this in more detail.

21. Spinal Decompression Machines

Imagine lying back, enveloped in a machine that gently stretches and relaxes your spine, offering a reprieve from the compressive forces of gravity and daily life.

This isn’t a fanciful dream but the therapeutic reality afforded by spinal decompression machines.

These sophisticated systems are specifically engineered to apply controlled traction to the spine, creating negative pressure within the disc.

They are designed to alleviate pain and promote healing of herniated or bulging discs, sciatica, and other spinal ailments.

Picture the relief as the machine slowly elongates your spin, allowing nutrients to flow and support natural healing.

It’s a high-tech haven for those plagued by chronic back pain, offering hope for a pain-free existence without resorting to invasive procedures.

22. Chiropractic Massage Tools

Every artist needs a palette of colors to create their masterpieces, and similarly, chiropractors have an array of massage tools to unleash the healing art of touch.

Handheld massagers, electric stimulation pads, and specialized rollers color the therapy landscape, each providing a different shade of relief.

These instruments serve a dual purpose: to relax tight and tired muscles and enhance blood circulation to the distressed areas.

The patient feels the dance of the practitioner’s hands aided by tools that knead, vibrate, and pulse, working the canvas of the body to a state of relaxation and healing.

23. Foam Rollers

The humble foam roller is one of the chiropractic suite’s simplest yet most effective tools.

This cylindrical piece emphasizes the power of self-care within the healing journey.

Patients are taught to manipulate their body weight against the roller’s resilient surface, unwrapping layers of muscle tension and fascial restrictions.

This self-myofascial release technique may seem straightforward, but the benefits are immense.

The gentle rolling motions can help correct muscular imbalances, improve range of motion, and aid in reducing soreness post-adjustment.

For the patient, the foam roller becomes a daily instrument in the symphony of self-maintenance.

24. Physiotherapy Bands

chiropractic physiotherapy bands

Deceivingly, complex, resistant bands are anything but elementary in their contributions to chiropractic and rehabilitation professions.

These stretchable bands, often in a kaleidoscope of colors indicating varying resistance levels, are essential for strengthening and rehab exercises.

With physiotherapy bands, a chiropractor can guide patients through a range of motions tailored to target specific muscle groups.

It’s a low-impact yet highly effective method to build strength and support joints after an injury or surgery, promoting patient recovery like the gentle crescendo of a soothing melody.

25. Cervical Traction Devices

Neck pain can be as persistent and uncomfortable as an off-key note in a tranquil tune. To address this, chiropractors employ cervical traction devices.

These gadgets delicately stretch and decompress the neck’s vertebrae, potentially freeing nerves pinched by the crowded bones.

The serene expression on a patient’s face as they experience the sweet release of neck tension provides silent testimony to the efficacy of these devices.

Whether a manual pump-driven device or an over-the-door model, this tool aims for the precise note needed to alleviate discomfort in the cervical spine.

26. Sacro Occipital Technique (SOT) Blocks

Perhaps one of the most captivating tools in the chiropractor’s orchestra is the SOT blocks, which resemble small wedges that seemingly hold the paradoxical power to unlock balance within the body.

These blocks are strategically placed under the pelvis to help normalize the sacrum and occiput relationship.

This technique is all about finesse and positioning—the subtle shift of a body’s landscape that can result in significant relief.

Like a maestro directing an orchestra to achieve harmony, chiropractors use SOT blocks to coax the body to a state of equilibrium.

27. Interferential Current (IFC) Machines

Interferential Current therapy may sound like something drawn from the pages of a science fiction novel, but IFC machines are very much grounded in scientific reality.

These devices use electrical signals to interfere with and modulate the pain signals traveling toward the brain. This can result in immediate pain relief and acts to stimulate self-healing.

The soothing buzz of the machine hums a lullaby to disturbed nerve pathways, encouraging muscles to relax their clenched grip of discomfort.

Technology bridges the gap between art and science, where waveforms wash away the chaos of chronic pain.

28. Trigger Point Tools

Lastly, we arrive at the precision tools of the chiropractor’s craft: trigger point implements.

These tools, ranging from simplistic handheld devices to more intricate systems, apply focused pressure to the body’s trigger points—tight spots within muscles that radiate pain to various regions.

These tools offer meticulous control and sustained pressure, which can be challenging to achieve with fingers alone.

The experience of a trigger point release is akin to the sudden resolution of dissonance to consonance—a turn from tension to tranquility within the body’s tissues.


1. What is the purpose of a spinal decompression table in chiropractic treatment?

Spinal decompression tables are used to stretch the spine gently. This stretching can alleviate pressure on the spinal discs, allowing nutrients to flow in and support natural healing. It’s particularly beneficial for those with chronic back pain.

2. How does a chiropractic massager tool work?

Chiropractic massager tools, such as handheld, electric stimulation pads, and specialized rollers, relax tight and tired muscles and enhance blood circulation to the distressed areas. They provide various types of relief, including kneading, vibrating, and pulsing.

3. Why are physiotherapy bands used in chiropractic therapy?

Physiotherapy bands are essential for strengthening exercises in chiropractic therapy. They offer a low-impact yet highly effective method for building strength and supporting joints, especially after an injury or surgery.

4. What is the role of a cervical traction device in chiropractic treatment?

In chiropractic treatment, cervical traction devices delicately stretch and decompress the neck’s vertebrae, potentially freeing nerves pinched by crowded bones. They help in alleviating discomfort in the cervical spine.

5. What does an Interferential Current (IFC) machine do?

An IFC machine uses electrical signals to interfere with and modulate pain signals traveling towards the brain. This can result in immediate pain relief and stimulate self-healing.

Bottom Line

The tools used by chiropractors are as diverse as the notes in a symphony, each pivotal in orchestrating the body’s journey toward harmony and health.

From the deft touch of trigger point tools to the waltz of waveforms from an IFC machine, these instruments perform their parts in alleviating pain and restoring balance.

Just as music can transcend boundaries and touch souls, so can these tools transform lives, turning the cacophony of discomfort into a tranquil relief tune.

We hope this tour of the chiropractor’s toolkit has enlightened and inspired you.

For more insights into chiropractic care, we invite you to read our other blog posts on this fascinating field.

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